The new PowerToys feature delivers optical character recognition (OCR) to the desktop.

Microsoft PowerToys is getting a new utility called PowerOCR that lets you select text in an image and copy it directly to the Windows clipboard, as revealed by BleepingComputer.

The new PowerToy is being developed by Windows app/utility developer Joseph Finney. He opened a ‘pull request’ on July 4th announcing the new PowerOCR program he was creating.

Finney’s post explained: “This PR introduces a new PowerToy to perform OCR anywhere on screen by selecting a rectangular region, clicking a word, or right-clicking an image file and selecting PowerOCR.”

As the tool is based on the already published Text Grab app, PowerOCR has seen rapid development with the help of other volunteer developers and Microsoft employees.

Here’s how it works

Users can use their mouse to select a region of text in an image and it will automatically be converted into text and copied to the Windows clipboard.

Finney uses Microsoft’s Windows.Media.Ocr API to convert the text in an image, which allows developers to add optical character recognition functionality to their programs.

As first reported by Neowin, the PowerOCR pull request (PR) shows that the utility is almost complete, with the project currently being reviewed and finalized with the help of another software developer and a Microsoft employee.

While it is not known when PowerOCR will be released, its core functionality appears to be complete, BleepingCompuer says. This means the feature could potentially be released in the next few months.

The new PowerToys feature should prove to be a success. Indeed, one of the most popular features of the Google mobile app is ‘Google Lens,’ which lets people use their mobile device’s camera to extract or translate text from an image.

Having a tool like PowerOCR on the desktop will make it much easier to extract text from images and immediately use it within other applications.